Morning, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. I'm still sitting
here on Monday morning scratching my head trying to figure out what the
hell happened to my suddenly 0-2 Minnesota Vikings. Hey... what are you
gonna do? At least the Packers are 0-2 as well.
We've got some of those new DVD reviews we promised you on Friday.
Peter Schorn checks in this morning with his thoughts on Disney and
Story: 10th Anniversary Edition, as well as 20th Century Fox's
The Thai Warrior. Also today, our own Adam Jones delivers his
take on Capital Entertainment's
Kitchen: The Complete TV Series and also Sony's new
Karate Kid: Special Edition. All four titles are now available
Now then... I'm off to the Digital Hollywood conference here in L.A.
this afternoon, to check out the latest with the developing HD-DVD
format (Blu-ray Disc, to my knowledge, isn't going to be there, but if
it is I'll be sure to check it out as well). I'll be back tomorrow
morning to fill you all in on that.
We have lots more DVD reviews coming for you in the next few days, from
Adam Jahnke, Barrie Maxwell, Todd Doogan and even a new member of our
staff as well. Heck, I might even pitch in a few myself.
Also, we're going to have more information for you tomorrow on
forthcoming and recent retailer-exclusive bonus DVDs. That's coming from
Russell Hammond, so be sure to watch for it.
Well... I had planned on making a second update last night, and then
posting a number of DVD reviews today, but the messy business of life
got in the way as it often has a tendency to do. Ah well. What can you
really do but roll with it?
Anyway, we're going save up the those reviews for next week. Trust me
when I say that I've got new DVD reviews from virtually the entire
writing Bits staff - TONS of them.
So we'll be back in the wee early hours of Monday morning to start
In the meantime, we've got some DVD release news to report. First up,
there's new announcements from Miramax. The studio will debut The
Great Raid on DVD on 12/20. There will be two versions of the
film on disc - a standard edition (SRP $29.99) and The
Great Raid: Unrated Director's Cut - Miramax Collector's Series
(SRP $39.99). We'll post details on features and extras when they come
Miramax has also announced The Yards:
Director's Cut for 12/13 (SRP $19.99), with Secuestro
Express following on 1/3 (SRP $29.99).
Fans of director Terry Gilliam will be glad to know that Dimension will
release The Brothers Grimm on both
DVD & UMD format on 12/20 (DVD SRP $29.99). Also look for the studio
to release Robert Rodriguez's Roadracers
on 12/23 ($29.99). Again, we'll post details on the features as they
Meanwhile, you TV DVD connoisseurs will be happy to hear that Universal
has set 11/22 as the street date for their 3-disc Miami
Vice: Season Two (SRP $59.98). Video will be in the original
full frame, with audio remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sole bonus
feature will be the Ride with Vice
featurette, which "takes you on a
behind-the-scenes journey into the world of the "real life"
Miami Vice Squad." The Season Two
episodes reportedly include "Phil Collins,
U2, Eric Clapton, Huey Lewis & The News, The Who, Fleetwood Mac and
many more!" in their soundtracks, so it looks like
Universal's ponied up for the license fees needed to do the music on
these episodes right. We shall see...
We've got street dates for you for all of
thus-far-announced DVD releases for October, November and
December. Look for the Rebel Samurai: Sixties
Swordplay Classics Box Set on 10/4, including Samurai
Rebellion, Sword of the Beast,
Kill! and Samurai
Spy. Le samouraï
and The Wages of Fear will follow
on 10/18. Pickpocket and Ugetsu
are expected on 11/8, with The Tales of
Hoffmann and Ran due on
11/22. Finally, look for both Shoot the Piano
Player and Forbidden Games
Speaking of Criterion, we'd like to congratulate everyone over at the
Collection. The company was honored with a Silver Medallion last weekend
at the Telluride Film Festival for their work. Well done!
We have a little more UMD news for you today as well. 20th Century Fox
will release Cheaper by the Dozen
(2003) and Like Mike on 12/20.
Also, Image has the anime Galerians: Rion
set for 10/25. We've updated the
Release List with these titles (and the aforementioned Brothers
We'll leave you this week with a look at the cover art for Miramax's
The Great Raid: Unrated Director's Cut -
Miramax Collector's Series, Dimension's The
Brothers Grimm and Disney's Sky
Be sure to check back Monday for our DVD review buffet (and bring your
Have a great weekend!
I'm sorry to say that there's more sad news to report today. Director
Wise has died, thankfully at the ripe old age of 91. Over the
course of his career, Wise manned the helm of a number of noteworthy
films, including The Sound of Music
(set for re-release on 11/15 from Fox as a new 40th
Anniversary Edition, that features a new anamorphic
widescreen transfer and audio commentary with Wise), West
Side Story, Star Trek: The Motion
Picture, The Andromeda Strain,
The Day the Earth Stood Still,
Run Silent Run Deep and many more.
He was also the editor on Orson Welles Citizen
Kane. I had the good fortune to meet Wise on a number of
different occasions over the years, and he was a true gentleman, always
with a fascinating story to tell. He'll most certainly be missed.
There's some new DVD release news this afternoon. Disney has officially
announced its 2-disc Toy Story 2: Special
Edition for 12/26 (SRP $29.99). Video will be presented in
high bit rate anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) mastered directly from the
Pixar digital source files, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS
6.1 ES surround. Extras will include audio commentary with director John
Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon and Andrew Stanton, a sneak peek of
Cars, outtakes, deleted scenes, 9
behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Who's
the Coolest Toy?, Making Toy Story
2, Designing Woody's Past,
Making Woody's Roundup, Production
Tour, Production Progression,
Early Animation Tests, Special
Effects and International Scene
featurettes), character interviews, a profile of John Lasseter, design
gallery slideshows, early storyboards, the film's theatrical trailers
and TV spots, a gallery of poster artwork, the Which
Toy Are You? and Ponkickles
interactive games and the Riders in the Sky
Disney will also release Sky High
Velocity will debut the critically acclaimed documentary Murderball
that same day, with an SRP of $29.99.
In other Fox news, the studio has officially set 11/8 as the wide
retail release date for its Space: Above and
Beyond - The Complete Series (SRP $49.98). The title is
already available on DVD, but only at Best Buy stores until 11/8. Fox
has also announced a 2-disc Garfield: The
Movie - Purrrfect Collector's Edition for release on 12/13
Also today, Paramount will release a 4-disc MTV
Jackass: The Box Set on 12/6 (we believe it's the complete
series). Paramount will also release MacGyver:
Season 4 on 12/6, with Newlyweds:
Nick & Jessica - The Final Season, Five
Pennies and Bad News Bears
(the new Billy Bob version) following on 12/13, Four
Brothers and The Amazing Race:
Season 7 due on 12/20, and Hustle &
Flow rounding out the month on 12/27.
We'll be back with more later this afternoon, so stay tuned...
Okay... we're back as promised with more new DVD reviews. Today, you'll
find here at The Bits my own
in-depth musings on Universal's
Galactica: Season One (the U.S. version), Touchstone's
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Image Entertainment's
Pilot: Operation Red Flag - IMAX and also Bear Family Records'
You! Cold War Educational Films from the Golden Age of Homeland
Security. As you know, Hitchhiker's
Guide streeted yesterday. Target
You! is also now available. Battlestar
Galactica will arrive in stores next Tuesday (9/20), while
Fighter Pilot streets a week later
(on 9/27). Enjoy!
In news today, Universal has officially announced the DVD release of
The Skeleton Key for 11/15 (SRP
$29.98). The DVD will be available in both full frame and anamorphic
widescreen video, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include
over 20 minutes worth of footage not shown in theaters, audio commentary
with director Iain Softley and 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Kate
Hudson's Ghost Story, Exploring
Voodoo/Hoodoo, Behind the Locked
Door: Making The Skeleton Key and Blues
in the Bayou).
Our pal Matt over at MusicTAP
has learned that Columbia will release a music title on UMD format on
11/8 - The Offspring: Complete Music Video
Collection. Fox's Fantastic Four
is also due to hit UMD on 12/6. Our
Release List has been updated accordingly.
Also today, by way of follow-up on those freezing problems some have
been reporting on Fox's Space Above and
Beyond: The Complete Series (currently only available at Best
Buy stores), Bits reader David S.
e-mailed me yesterday to say that he exchanged his defective copy and
was able to get one that did in fact work. This seems to suggest that
not ALL copies of the set have the freezing problem. So our
recommendation is to do what David did and make the swap. Our thanks to
David for the information.
We'll have a bunch more DVD reviews for you tomorrow, so stay tuned!
(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/05 - NOON PDT)
We're holding those reviews until tomorrow, because our own Russell
Hammond has just checked in with a truly massive update of the
DVD Cover Art section. Over 430 new cover scans have been
added... and we know how much you all like cover art. Our thanks to
Russell for his heroic efforts!
Rest assured, we'll be back tomorrow with a TON of new DVD reviews, so
be sure to check back then.
And speaking of art, we wanted to mention our new
of the Month once more. Denise
DesLauriers creates incredibly detailed images on
scratchboard, and it's well worth your time to take a moment to check
out her work.
here for her artist page here at The
Bits. You can also click
here to visit her own website. Enjoy!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/05 -
12:01 AM PDT)
We've got a number of new DVD release announcements to report this
morning, so let's get them out of the way early...
First up, Paramount has announced a 3-disc Aeon
Flux: The Complete Animated Collection for release on 11/22.
A new Gallipoli: Special Collector's Edition
has been set to street on 12/13. A number of catalog titles will follow
on 12/20, including Ring of Fear,
Plunder of the Sun: Special Collector's
Edition, Seven Men from Now:
Special Collector's Edition, Track
of the Cat: Special Collector's Edition and Man
in the Vault.
Just FYI, Paramount's informed us that their 11/8 DVD release of Mahogany
has been cancelled until further notice. No details were given as to why
the title was pulled.
Universal's coughing up a pair of TV releases on 12/6, one old and one
new: The Rockford Files: Season One
and Law & Order: The Fourth Year.
The Criterion Collection is expected to deliver François
Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player
(Cat #315) and René Clément's Forbidden
Games (#318) in December (specific street dates TBA).
Sony has a new batch of titles set for release on 11/22, including 8MM
2 (in separate R and Unrated versions), Novo,
Ringers: Lord of the Fans - Special Edition
(on both DVD & UMD), Seinfeld: Season 5,
Seinfeld: Season 6 and a Seinfeld:
Seasons 5 & 6 Gift Set (which includes a handwritten
script and a collectible puffy shirt).
Speaking of Sony, the studio has informed us that their 11/15 UMD
release of Stealth will be a combo
disc that will also include a PSP game title - Wipeout
Pure: Stealth Edition. SRP will be $39.95.
Finally, Anchor Bay Entertainment will release a pair of Bruce Campbell
titles on 10/4, including Man with the
Screaming Brain and Alien
Apocalypse. For you zombie film fans, they'll release Day
of the Dead 2: Contagium on 10/18. Better yet, look for the
studio's Divimax release of George Romero's
Zombi on 10/25. Zombi
is, of course, the rare 118-minute Italian cut of Romero's Dawn
of the Dead, the re-editing of which was supervised by Dario
Argento (Argento's version omits the humor and emphasizes action).
Here's a peek at the cover art for Paramount's Aeon
Flux: The Complete Animated Collection and Gallipoli:
Special Collector's Edition, along with Touchstone's Dark
Water: Unrated Version(12/26)...
Around the Net today, our friend Dave Lambert over at the always
website has posted
good editorial on the latest complicating factor in the looming
Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD format war. It's well worth a read, so don't miss
And we hear tell that there's strange things afoot over at the official
Guide to the Galaxy website today (and today only). This is,
of course, the official street date for the DVD. Watch for our review
Back later with more. Stay tuned...
Boy... it's good to have football season back again, isn't it? Some of
you may not care, but I'm sure you NFL fans know exactly what I'm
talking about. Even though my Vikings lost this weekend, there's just
something about this time of year that wouldn't be the same without
football. I surely do love it.
Okay... we've been threatening you with new DVD reviews lately. Today,
we begin to make good on that, by posting in-depth reviews of three new
titles on disc. You'll find my thoughts on Paramount's
Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season (due to street on
9/27). Also available today are Peter Schorn's review of Shout!
The Complete Series and Adam Jones' take on Sony's
1 & 2: Double Feature Gift Set (both now available). We'll
be back tomorrow with more new reviews, including a new column by Adam
Jahnke that's packed silly with 'em. Don't miss it.
Some news from around the Net today... Buena Vista and Dimension have
finally revealed that the Frank Miller's Sin
City: Recut & Extended Edition will street on 12/13 (SRP
$39.99). The 2-disc set will feature the theatrical version of the film
along with a new 147-minute extended cut, both in anamorphic widescreen
video (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio. Extras are set
to include audio commentary with director Robert Rodriguez and Frank
Miller, a second commentary with Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, a
third commentary containing the Austin Premiere crowd's reaction, 12
behind-the-scenes featurettes (15-Minute Film
School with Robert Rodriguez, The
Movie in High-Speed Green Screen, The
Long Take: 17 Uninterrupted Minutes of Tarantino's Segment,
Sin City Night at Antones: Filmmakers, Cast &
Crew Party, 10-Minute Cooking
School with Robert Rodriguez, A
Hard Top with a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City, Making
the Monsters: Special Effects Make-up, Trench
Coats and Fish Nets: The Costumes of Sin City, Booze,
Broads & Guns: The Props of Sin City, How
It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to Make the Film, Giving
the Characters Life: Casting the Film and Special
Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino), the film's teaser and
theatrical trailers, an outtakes reel, the Sin-Chroni-City
interactive game and the complete Sin City:
The Hard Goodbye graphic novel. Now THAT'S the DVD fans have
been waiting for.
More Buena Vista-related news: The tentative release date for Miramax's
Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition
has been pushed back to December (it had originally been set for release
on 9/13). We're waiting on the exact revised street date from the studio
and we'll post it as soon as it comes in. Also, soon to be announced by
Disney is Sky High (street date
We've been getting a LOT of reports from readers that 20th Century
Fox's Best Buy-exclusive Space: Above &
Beyond: The Complete Series may be defective. Readers are
reporting problems with the playback freezing up during the second
episode. We'll post more details when we have them.
In other news today, Channel 4 News
in the U.K. ran a feature story yesterday on the forthcoming Blu-ray
Disc/HD-DVD format war. The TV news piece runs about 6 minutes and it's
actually quite a good primer on the current situation. It also features
a screen shot of The Digital Bits,
noting: "This website warns enthusiasts to stay away until the war
is over." You're darned right we do!
here to visit the Channel 4 site and
to view the report itself (via streaming Windows Media). Our thanks to
Bits reader Carl R. for the
heads-up on that!
One other note today... consider this Rumor
Mill worthy until we get the official word, but sources are
telling us that Anchor Bay will release Hellraiser,
Dawn of the Dead (the original)
and Children of the Corn on UMD
format on November 22nd.
Around the site this morning, we've got FOUR new
going, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's
Four-Disc Collector's Edition and
The Complete Fourth Season, Universal's
Way: Ultimate Edition,
Daughter: 25th Anniversary Edition,
Hunter: Legacy Series,
Uncut & Uncensored - Season Two,
Season One and
Special Edition, and finally Fox's
and NINE great
Halloween-themed titles including
of Caligari and more.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/9/05 - 4
One last post for today: We've received a list of the extras you'll
find on DreamWorks' just-announced War of the
Worlds. The standard editions (SRP $29.99 each) will include
the film along with the Designing the Enemy:
Tripods and Aliens featurette. The 2-disc Limited
Edition (SRP $36.98) will include that, along with Revisiting
the Invasion (an introduction by Spielberg), the 4-part Production
Diary documentary (2 parts for Filming
on the East Coast and 2 parts for Filming
on the West Coast), 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes (The
HG Wells Legacy, Characters: The
Family Unit of War of the Worlds, Pre-Visualization
and Scoring War of the Worlds),
We are Not Alone (closing words by
Spielberg), galleries of design artwork and production photos, and the
film's theatrical trailers.
Okay... NOW we're done for the week. See you Monday!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/9/05 - 3
At long last, DreamWorks has finally announced Steven Spielberg's War
of the Worlds for 11/22,
The film will be available on DVD in three versions: single-disc
anamorphic widescreen and full frame standard editions (SRP $29.99 each)
and also a two-disc anamorphic widescreen Limited
Edition (no SRP has been set). Audio on all three versions
will be English and French Dolby Digital 5.1, and English DTS 5.1. No
details on extras have as yet been released.
Here's a look at the cover art for both the regular edition and the
Limited Edition of War
of the Worlds, along with art for Fox's Fantastic
Four (due 12/6), temp art of both versions of Universal's
Cinderella Man (also due 12/6) and
George Romero's Land of the Dead: Unrated
Director's Cut (10/18) as well...
Speaking of Fantastic Four, the
film will be available in dual anamorphic widescreen and full frame
versions on DVD from Fox (SRP $29.98 each). Both will include Dolby
Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio. We're not sure how accurate this is, but
according to Fox Home Video's spec sheet, the full frame version will
include audio commentary with members of the cast, 3 deleted scenes, a
cast featurette, the Making of Fantastic Four
featurette, the Fox Movie Channel Presents
Fantastic Four: Casting Session and Making
a Scene featurettes, music videos for Everything
Burns and Come On Come In,
a soundtrack TV spot and an Inside Look
preview of X-Men 3. The widescreen
version includes all of that, plus the film's theatrical trailer and a
Marvel Avengers trailer. FYI, we
think it's entirely possible that both discs will feature exactly the
same extras, and this is just an error on the spec sheet.
Around the Net today, there are some interesting articles worth
Media Retailing has posted a story to the effect that while
UMD movies for Sony's PSP game system are selling well, there aren't
many hit games for the portable platform yet, despite unit sales of more
than 2 million since it was first launched in March (however a slew of
major PSP game titles ARE expected by the 4th Qtr).
also have a brief story on inexpensive DVD players that are
capable of scaling standard 490p video signals up to faux 1080i - a very
nice option for those of you with large front or rear projection
systems. There's even a quote or two in there from me, although for the
record I have a Pioneer player... not a Phillips (a Pioneer Elite
DV-59AVi to be exact - hey, I DO have an image to maintain here).
Business also has a story on Sony's PSP game system,
highlighting the effort of retailers to push sales of the system (and
both game and UMD movie software) this upcoming holiday season. VB's
best piece today, however, is
editorial by columnist Paul Sweeting on the various
copy-protection schemes that are expected to be employed by the
forthcoming Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD high-definition formats.
Interestingly, one of the reported reasons that Blu-ray Disc went with a
more restrictive copy-protection scheme than just Advanced Access
Content System (AACS) is that it only allows for revoking hacked
encryption keys on software-based players - not set-top, stand-alone
hardware. HD-DVD uses only AACS, while Blu-ray Disc has added the
Self-Protecting Digital Content (SPCD) system (which verrifys
"the integrity of both the disc and the
hardware before playback" and presumably allows the remote
disabling of either if said "integrity" is compromised). There
are also other content-protection schemes being discussed, including one
that would allow future DVD players to recognize watermarks imbedded in
the video image of camcorder-pirated theatrical films (and presumably
refuse to play burned discs containing such content). It's a fascinating
editorial, and it illustrates a concern we've had here at The
Bits about these new formats for a while now.
Look... the need for Hollywood to protect its film and TV content from
PROFESSIONAL video pirates is undeniable, particularly as better and
better quality video is encoded on the discs. But what about your
average, well-meaning consumer? Just how intrusive are these measures
going to be on the fair use of that content by the rest of us... those
of us who AREN'T criminals? That remains to be seen. Also yet to be seen
is how willing the studios and manufacturers are going to be to offer
consumers guarantees and protections against the excessive or
unwarranted use of these copy-protection measures. It's worth being
concerned about, lest these new formats turn out to be just another
version of Circuit City's Divx, where the industry has as much control
over your players and discs as YOU do, even after you've opened your
wallets and purchased them. The last thing WE want is yet another scheme
where players monitor our viewing habits and report them back to the
studios, and where we end up having to rent DVDs from our own purchased
collections. Or worse, a system where some of your movie discs (if their
encryption keys have been hacked by pirates) can be revoked without your
knowledge, so they no longer play normally. In other words, discs you've
already paid for and legally own can be made coasters, with no guarantee
of replacement, all though no fault of your own. You can bet we'll be
watching this issue closely in the months ahead.
Okay... that's all for this week. We're working on a TON of new DVD
reviews for next week, so be sure to check back on Monday for the first
of those. In the meantime, have a great weekend and stay tuned!
Okay... since we were already working on getting these reviews posted,
we figured we might as well get our whole Thursday post up for you nice
and early. Hey... sometimes, even WE are able to get ahead of the game.
Not often, but every once in a while. ;-)
So... to start with today, Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD
release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
for 11/8. Three versions of the film will be available on disc: a
standard edition in anamorphic widescreen or full frame (SRP $28.98
each), along with a 2-disc Deluxe Edition
in anamorphic widescreen only (SRP $30.97). The widescreen aspect ratio
is 1.85:1, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. Extras on the Deluxe
Edition will include 3 featurettes (Becoming
Oompa-Loompa, Attack of the
Squirrels and Fantastic Mr. Dahl),
an Oompa-Loompa Dance tutorial
video, 2 interactive games (The Inventing
Machine and Search for the Golden
Ticket), the film's theatrical trailer "and more."
Here's a look at cover artwork for Charlie,
along with a look at Fox's The X-Files: Super
Soldiers - Four-Disc Mythology Collection (11/22)...
We've got some details on the features and extras to be found on Fox's
7-disc 24: Season Four, due to
street on 12/6 (SRP $69.98). All 24 episodes will be presented in
anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include
audio commentary on 7:00AM-8:00AM
(by Joel Surnow and Mary Lynn Rajskub), 12:00PM-1:00PM
(by Joseph Hodges and Jon Cassar), 1:00PM-2:00PM
(by Kim Raver and Joseph Hodges), 2:00PM-3:00PM
(by Stephen Kornish and Peter Lenkov), 3:00PM-4:00PM
(by Evan Katz and Shannon Doherty), 4:00PM-5:00PM
(by Nestor Serrano and Stephen Kronish), 8:00PM-9:00PM
(by Tim Iacofano and Shohreh Aghdashloo), 9:00PM-10:00PM
(by Roger Cross and Bryan Spicer), 12:00AM-1:00AM
(by Jon Cassar and Sean Callery), 1:00AM-2:00AM
(by Paul Gadd and Ken Kobett), 4:00AM-5:00AM
(by Matt Michnovetz and Duppy Demetris) and 6:00AM-7:00AM
(by Bob Cochran and Scott Powell), some 35 deleted scenes available for
viewing in a branched mode within each episode (and also separately with
optional audio commentary by John Cassar on Disc Seven), 4
behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Breaking
Ground: Building the New CTU, Blood
on the Tracks, Lock and Load
and 24 Conspiracy: Minute One to Minute
Twenty-Four), a preview trailer for Season
Five, a trailer for 24: The Game,
The Longest Day music video and a
24: Season Five Prequel video
(shot on location during the production of Season Five, which bridges
Season Four and Five). All in all, it sounds like a pretty nice package.
In other news today, we've got a couple of new street dates for you.
Consider these Rumor Mill-worthy
until official announcements are made, but sources have informed us to
expect Sony to release The Cave
and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
on 11/29. Just in case you were dying to get your hands on more Deuce on
Speaking of Sony, it seems that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
president Benjamin Feingold has been doing
little boasting about Blu-ray Disc to Home Media Retailing.
To quite Mr. Feingold, I think in 12 months
it's all going to be clear: the combination of Blu-ray and PlayStation 3
machines is going to overwhelm any HD DVD presence and all studios will
have to support Blu-ray." Gee... do you sense a little
hubris over at Sony these days? Personally, we think they would do well
not to count their chickens before they've hatched. Look... on paper, we
agree that Blu-ray Disc SEEMS like a superior format to HD-DVD, at least
spec-wise. But most early adopters we know aren't exactly excited about
the looming prospect of a format war. And as we've noted, there are
potential features of Blu-ray Disc (and HD-DVD) that are likely to leave
early adopters feeling a little cold (including digital-only output of
1080 video signals and the use of rather draconian copy-protection
measures). Also, while it's true that the PS3 is going to be a huge
seller in 2006... it's going to sell overwhelmingly to videogamers. And
just as the majority of consumers haven't yet adopted high-definition,
it's likely that the majority of videogamers couldn't care less about
gaming (much less watching movies) in high-definition. That will change
over time, but not significantly in the next few years. Making matters
worse, a LOT of brick-and-mortar retailers are going to be mighty
reluctant to carry movies in four different formats (standard DVD,
HD-DVD, Blu-ray Disc and UMD) on their already space-starved shelves.
Some leading retailers may choose not to carry the new HD formats at
all. Will Wal-Mart carry both? Unlikely. Sony execs can boast about
Blu-ray Domination until the cows come home... but they MAY just be
surprised to find that when those cows do finally arrive, early
adopters, retailers and consumers at large have already locked them out
of the barn.
Now then... how about some reviews? Our own Peter Schorn has checked in
today with his thoughts on a trio of new DVD releases. Today you'll find
here his thoughts on 20th Century Fox's
Transporter: Special Delivery Edition, Paramount's
Boy: Holy Schnike Edition and Warner Bros'
of Silicon Valley. All are now available in stores. I'm
working on several new DVD reviews as well, and we've got a new batch
from Adams Jones and Jahnke coming too, so watch for those soon.
Also this morning, we're pleased to bring you Barrie Maxwell's
edition of Classic Coming Attractions. In this column,
Barrie runs down all the latest classic film DVD release announcements.
Do check it out.
Elsewhere around The Bits today,
we've updated a lot of the DVD format stats that we track (above),
DVD Player Sales numbers (for the week ending August 12th).
And that's all for now. As always, stay tuned!
We've got a couple of things for you early this afternoon. First up,
we'd like to acknowledge the passing of
Bob Denver, widely known for his role as the title character on
TV's classic Gilligan's Island.
Thanks for all the laughs, little buddy. Also passing in the last few
days is legendary Mississippi blues man
Burnside. Both will be greatly missed.
Now then... some new DVD announcements.
expected, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of Fantastic
Four for 12/6. No other details are available yet, but the
street date is confirmed. Other titles announced by the studio for 12/6
include 24: Season Four, The
Dark Corner, Garfield &
Friends: Volume 5, Kiss of Death
(1947), M*A*S*H: The Complete Ninth Season,
Pet Alien: The Lighter Side of Doom
and Where the Sidewalk Ends
(1950). Following on 12/13 are Black Widow,
Puddle Cruiser and Reba:
Season Two, with The Shield:
Season Four due on 12/27.
In other news, Universal has announced Chicago
Boricua for 12/27.
Buena Vista has revealed a pair of new Touchstone titles for January,
including a Dead Poets Society: 15th
Anniversary Special Edition and a Good
Morning Vietnam: Special Edition (both 1/17 - SRP $19.99).
Disney's Bambi II has also been
announced for 2/7, with a new Lady and the
Tramp: Special Edition following on 2/28.
Finally, HBO will release a slate of documentary titles on 1/3,
including Death in Gaza, A
Father... a Son... Once upon a Time in Hollywood, Left
of the Dial, Naked World,
Soldiers in the Army of God and
Twist of Faith.
There's some UMD news today as well: Fox will release Bratz
Rock Angelz on 12/27. Buena Vista has set UMD versions of
The Nightmare Before Christmas and
The Crow for 10/25, with The
Incredibles, Clerks and
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl
following on 11/15. Our
Release List has been updated accordingly.
Here's a look at cover artwork for DreamWorks' Madagascar
(11/15) and Disney's Tarzan: Special Edition
(10/18), Lady and the Tramp: Special Edition
(2/28) and The Emperor's New Groove: The New
Groove Edition (10/25), as well as Touchstone's Dead
Poets Society: 15th Anniversary Special Edition and Good
Morning Vietnam: Special Edition...
Back with some new DVD reviews in a little while. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 9/6/05 -
11:30 AM PDT)
Here's an interesting development:
has announced that if the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD camps fail to
compromise on a unified format, it will release a combo player in 2006
capable of playing both formats. Says Samsung's Choi Gee-sung,
"We would welcome a unified standard but if
this doesn't come, which looks likely, we'll bring a unified solution to
market. It won't be simple but you'll see our solution in the coming
year. Consumers will be too confused otherwise." That's
actually pretty admirable, given that Samsung is officially a Blu-ray
Disc supporter, and we'd be surprised if at least one or two other
manufacturers didn't follow suit eventually. The problem, of course, is
that not many home theater enthusiasts or early adopters are likely to
spend over $1,000 for a Samsung player. Ideally, they'll be looking for
Sony and Pioneer models... maybe Toshiba. And while early Blu-ray Disc
and HD-DVD players are likely to SRP for about $1,000, you'd have to
expect that ANY combo player capable of handling both formats would
initially cost WAY over that price point. Still, as I said, it's an
And here's another one too: Toshiba has announced that it is officially
delaying the U.S. launch of HD-DVD until "about the same time"
as Blu-ray Disc launches in early 2006. However, it expects to street
the format hardware in Japan in late 2005 as originally planned. There's
good report on this over at Red Herring, which features
some very interesting comments from Mark Knox, an advisor to the HD-DVD
promotion division at Toshiba. It's DEFINITELY worth a read, so don't
We've got a number of new DVD reviews coming for tomorrow, so stay
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/6/05
- 12:01 AM PDT)
Well... we've received an official update from Paramount and 20th
Century Fox with details about the forthcoming special edition DVD
re-issue of Titanic, set for
release on 10/25 in the U.S. (with international release dates to
follow). Some of you will be happy, while others will likely be less so.
We've confirmed now that there will be THREE different DVD versions
available... but not to everyone. All three versions will include
anamorphic widescreen video mastered from a new high-definition
transfer, along with both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio
options. Here's the breakdown of the three versions, along with specific
details on the extras set to be included with each:
The Titanic: 2-Disc Special Edition
will be available in Europe, Australia and Latin America (from 20th
Century Fox). This set will include the film itself, along with a
9-minute alternate ending, some 50 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage
and featurettes accessible via a branched viewing option during the
film, and 3 newly-recorded audio commentary tracks featuring director
James Cameron, members of the cast and crew, and historians talking
about the actual events.
The Titanic: 3-Disc Special Collector's
Edition will be available in the U.S., Japan and Korea (from
Paramount in the U.S. and 20th Century Fox elsewhere). It will include
the film itself and ALL of the 2-Disc Special
Edition's bonus features, along with over 45 minutes of "newly-finished"
deleted scenes (complete with final, feature-quality visual effects),
several production and special effects featurettes looking at various
aspects of the making of the film, and the complete 43-minute Titanic:
Breaking New Ground TV special on the making of the film.
Finally, the Titanic: 4-Disc Deluxe
Collector's Edition will be available in Europe, Australia
and Latin America (from 20th Century Fox). It will include the film
itself and ALL of the extras in the 2-Disc
Special Edition and 3-Disc Special
Collector's Edition, along with HBO's First
Look special on the making of the film (entitled Titanic:
The Heart of the Ocean), 3 short Titanic
parodies and a gallery of trailers for the film (including some never
Unfortunately, we're very sorry to say that Ed Marsh's
highly-anticipated, feature-length documentary on the making of the
film, which was announced at Paramount and Fox's
press event for the DVD release, will NOT be included on any
version. This is unofficial, but we've learned from our sources that it
was apparently killed by none other than Cameron himself. We can only
presume that some of it at least will survive in the form of the
behind-the-scenes featurettes now confirmed for the 3 and 4-disc sets,
but the exact number of (and details about) these featurettes is
unfortunately still to be announced. There's also no confirmation yet on
whether Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have recorded audio
commentary for the DVD release (although at the time of the original
press conference, both had reportedly expressed a willingness to
participate if their scheduled permitted). We SUSPECT (but this is not
official) that this means either or both are still yet to be recorded
(our experience is that when such details are left out of official
announcements, it's generally because they're still up in the air).
So there you have it. That's the latest, official update on Titanic.
We'll try to provide you with additional details as they come in. Let
the fan fallout begin.
In other news this morning, I wanted to let you all know that Lucasfilm
officially announced the DVD release of Star
Wars: Clone Wars - Volume Two on 12/6 (as
predicted in The Rumor Mill a couple months back). The
disc will include all five 12-minute chapters in anamorphic widescreen
video, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include the
Connecting the Dots
behind-the-scenes featurette, 2 galleries of animation concept art,
storyboards and sketches, trailers for LucasArts' upcoming Star
Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars:
Battlefront II video games and an Xbox-playable demo of Battlefront
II featuring 2 complete levels from the game.
Here's a look at cover art for Star Wars:
Clone Wars - Volume Two, along with Sony's Christmas
with the Kranks (11/8) and MGM's 2-disc Battle
of Britain: Collector's Edition (10/25)...
By the way, after all my comments about the tragic aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina yesterday (click
here and scroll down a little for that), I neglected to mention
the impact of the disaster on pet owners in the region. In addition to
the links we've posted (at the top of The
Bits' home page) to the American
Red Cross and the Salvation
Army, we've now added a link to
Humane Society, where you can make donations to help rescue
stranded or abandoned animals in the region. After all, as any good pet
owner knows... animals are people too.
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
Well, as you can imagine with the long holiday weekend, and given the
ongoing tragedy, there's not a lot of new DVD news to report today. But
let's quickly cover what there is...
First up, Universal has announced a $26.98 SRP-ed Jurassic
Park Adventure Pack for 11/29 (containing the previously
released Jurassic Park, The
Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic
Park III DVDs), and Frankie &
Johnny Are Married for 12/20.
Meanwhile, Sony (and in a few cases Sony for MGM) has announced The
Edukators, Jane Goodall: Return to
Gombe, Stealth (in
anamorphic widescreen DVD, full frame DVD and UMD versions), The
Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Fun with the Cat, Fantasy
Island: The First Season, The
Johnny Cash Show Collection, Stargate
Atlantis: Season 1, Hard Promises,
Love at Stake, Pray
TV, The Heavenly Kid,
O.C. and Stiggs, Rikky
and Pete and a Monty Python Box
Set (including Monty Python and
the Holy Grail, And Now for
Something Completely Different and Terry Gilliam's The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen) all for release on 11/15.
Paramount has announced the DVD release of Four
Brothers for 12/20.
And 20th Century Fox has finally unveiled cover artwork for their Alien
Vs. Predator Unrated Collector's Edition (11/22), along with
the Oklahoma! 50th Anniversary Edition
and The Sound of Music 40th Anniversary
Edition (both 11/15)...
Here at the site today, I wanted to let you all know that we have a new
of the Month for September... Denise
DesLauriers. Denise works in the medium of scratchboard, and
her work is pretty spectacular. It's richly detailed, often vibrantly
hued and evocative. I encourage you all to take a moment to check it
And around the Net,
recently posted a story about the looming high-definition disc format
war. It confirms a bit of news a LOT of you out there are going to
really hate (and which the industry isn't keen on you knowing at the
moment): Blu-ray Disc players (and possibly HD-DVD players as well) may
need to be connected to a phone line or some kind of broadband Internet
connection (like - dare we say it? - Circuit City's now defunct Divx
players of old). This connection would allow the Hollywood studios and
the player manufacturers to have an unwanted degree of control over the
players and movies in your home, even after you've paid for them. For
example, your Blu-ray Disc player will be able report certain kinds of
activity back to the manufacturer (and possibly the studios as well),
who will in turn have the ability to remotely disable your player. This
is part of an effort to protect the digital content rights of the
Hollywood studios. There's the strong potential in this plan, however,
for a decided lack of protection for the rights of consumers. We'll have
more to say on this subject in the next couple of weeks, you can be
Finally today, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the devastation
caused by Hurricane Katrina. It's been incredibly sobering and difficult
to watch all the coverage over the last week - coverage of ruined homes,
destroyed cities and lives torn apart. Here we are, just a week away
from the 4th anniversary of 9/11, and we're confronted by a disaster of
far more epic proportions. It's a disaster caused by Nature to be sure,
but it's also a man-made disaster. And I find myself incredibly angry
over the whole thing (and YOU should be too), because while there will
always been things like hurricanes to deal with that we simply can't
prevent, the fact remains that plenty could and SHOULD have been done to
prevent the destruction and death toll from reaching the magnitude that
it surely has (and which will be revealed fully in the weeks and months
ahead). You're going to hear a lot of excuses made (I've already heard
WAY more than my fill), but make absolutely no mistake about it: Anyone
who says that we couldn't have predicted that things could get this bad
for New Orleans is either lying to cover their ass, or just negligently
ignorant. For many years scientists and local and Federal officials have
known this could happen (click
for a 5-part New Orleans newspaper report from 2002,
to listen to a disturbing 2-part NPR audio report from 2002,
to see a January 2005 NOVA report on this subject and
for a U.S. News story from earlier this year - just a
scant few of the MANY places the threat has been reported in recent
years alone). Naturally, for as many years, political back-biting, lack
of will and classic short-sightedness have prevented local and Federal
officials from doing much of anything substantial about it. As a result
of this failure of leadership, as evidenced by the mistakes made (and
slow response times seen) this past week and despite billions of dollars
spent on supposedly improving national security, it seems that our
collective ability to deal with natural and man-made disasters is
actually WORSE that it was before 9/11, not better (click
here for more on that). All this despite the absolutely heroic and
ongoing efforts of under-funded first responders. Now, thousands of
lives have likely been lost - the majority of them probably poor,
elderly and infirm New Orleans residents who were asleep in their beds,
believing the worst danger had passed, as the levees broke and water
flooded into their homes. Many that survived the actual flood, perished
in the days that followed when help was slow to arrive. As in any
disaster, crisis or conflict, it's the poor who always seem to bear the
worst burdens. And hundreds of thousands of Americans of ALL economic
levels in the region (maybe as many as a million or more) have lost
their homes, and possibly their jobs as well. The word disaster doesn't
even begin to cover this.
Here at The Bits, our hearts go
out to all those of you who have been impacted by this tragedy. We know
that we have many readers who live in the area, and many more elsewhere
with friends and family in the devastated region. We'd like to encourage
ALL of our readers to give whatever you can to the relief effort, which
will surely be massive. Those affected will need our help for years, so
please be generous in whatever ways you can. We've got links for you to
the American Red
Cross and the Salvation
Army to make donations. We're also posted linked buttons at
the top of The Bits home page to
both relief organizations, which we intend to leave up for a LONG time.
And you can
here to go to CNN's "help center" page, which offers a
long list of weblinks, phone numbers and other resources - everything
you need to help and get involved. PLEASE get involved somehow.
Once again, for all those of you in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama,
Florida and other affected areas, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
We've got some interesting new DVD announcements for you today, so
let's get right to them.
First up, Paramount has revealed their Beavis
& Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 1 for
release on 11/8. No word on extras yet on the 3-disc set. Paramount will
also release The Honeymooners
(2005) on 11/22.
New Line will release 50 Cent: Refuse to Die
on 11/8, with dual R and Unrated versions of Havoc
following on 11/29.
HBO has set The Christmas Wife
for release on 11/8.
Warner's announced a new Kong title for 11/22 - Kong:
King of Atlantis (SRP $19.98). They have a 3-disc Warner
Bros. Holiday Collection due on 11/8 (SRP $29.98), which will
include Boys Town (1938), Christmas
in Connecticut (1945) and A
Christmas Carol (1938). Each of these titles will also be
available separately. The studio has also announced a new slate of TV
titles for December, including The West Wing:
The Complete Fifth Season and Full
House: The Complete Second Season (both 12/6), The
Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fifth Season and The
Gilmore Girls: The Complete Fifth Season (both 12/13) and
also ER: The Complete Fourth Season
Finally, Sony has announced a solid batch of new releases for 11/8,
including a Jumanji: Deluxe Edition
(2-discs), Blizzard, Christmas
with the Kranks, Yes,
Jeopardy: An Inside Look at America's
Favorite Quiz Show!, The Partridge
Family: The Complete Second Season (3 discs), Burn!,
The Fugitive Kind, The
Missouri Breaks, A Dry White
Season and Rock-A-Doodle.
They've announced Christmas with the Kranks
and Jumanji for the PSP (UMD) on
11/8 as well.
Around the site today, our own Peter Schorn pays his dues with a review
O.C.: The Complete Second Season on DVD. Do check it out. ;-)
And we'll leave you today with a look at a little more new upcoming DVD
cover artwork. Here's Paramount's Airplane! "Don't
Call Me Shirley!" Edition (11/15) and Beavis
& Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection - Volume 1, along
with final art for Universal's The Big
Lebowski: Collector's Edition (10/18 - not to be confused
with the Achiever's Edition gift
We're going to be dark here at The Bits
tomorrow and Friday, as Sarah and I take a little time to enoff joy our
15th wedding anniversary. You've gotta have priorities, you know? But
we'll be back on Monday with all the latest news and more.
See you then!
(LATE UPDATE - 8/30/05 - 5
We've got updated street dates for you from our industry sources for
DreamWorks' War of the Worlds and
Warner's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
both titles which are yet to be officially announced. You'll find that
Rumor Mill this afternoon.
Also today, we promised you a report on Universal's DVD release event
for The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary
Edition, which Sarah and I attended last night. Held at the
Mann Chinese Theater complex in Hollywood, the event was produced in
conjunction with the Hollywood's Master Storytellers program. The packed
theater audience was treated to a 45-minute panel discussion, hosted by
Gordon Meyer, which was simulcast via satellite to over 80 Regal Theater
locations across the country. On hand to participate in the discussion
were director John Landis, former Universal Studios head of production
Thom Mount and various members of the film's cast, including the
legendary James Brown (the Reverend Cleophus James), Steve "The
Colonel" Cropper (himself) and Henry Gibson (the head of the
Illinois Nazis). Elwood Blues himself, Dan Aykroyd, participated live
via satellite from Toronto, Canada. Also on hand as special guests were
Charles Napier (Tucker McElroy of The Good Old Boys), Steven Williams
(Trooper Mount) and George Folsey Jr. (the film's editor).
The discussion was lively and entertaining, with everyone recounting
their stories of the film's production. Topics included how the Blues
Brothers first came together as a musical act, how the band was
assembled, how the idea to make a film based upon the popular Saturday
Night Live characters came to be, how the film's story was
developed from Aykroyd's original 300-page script (which he submitted in
a phone book cover as a joke), the film's stuntwork, its ever-increasing
budget and much more. There were several particularly entertaining
moments when the panelists described their memories of the late John
Belushi. Gibson, in particular, told a funny story about a time during
the filming in Chicago when Belushi suggested to Landis that they should
try to get the Pope to make a cameo in the film (the Pope was scheduled
to visit the city during the production). And he was serious!
When the panel concluded, there was a brief intermission, after which
all 80+ theaters screened the original theatrical version of The
Blues Brothers. Some of the guests stayed to watch the film
and some didn't, but the crowd was lively and clearly thrilled with the
Sarah took a number of great pictures from the event,
you can view here. We've also got a number of streaming video
clips from the event for you to check out (just click the links to view
Clip 1 - Dan Aykroyd talks the
band's first live performance (Windows
Clip 2 - Dan Aykroyd talks about
how The Blues Brothers came to be (Windows
Clip 3 - John Landis complements
James Brown (Windows
Clip 4 - Dan Aykroyd tells a funny
story about John Belushi (Windows
Clip 5 - John Landis on John
Belushi and the film (Windows
A couple of interesting notes: In speaking briefly with Landis before
the panel, I was able to learn that the extended version of the film
(included on both this and the original DVD release) was created with
footage culled from the Pickwick Theatre print that had previously been
thought lost (it was apparently found prior to the original DVD release,
having been kept for years by the theater owner's son!). However, some
20 minutes of footage from the original "roadshow" version of
the film remain missing and are believed lost. In any case, even though
this footage is MIA, I confirmed that Landis DOES still have the mixed
audio masters for the musical numbers that were deleted from the film,
including Sink the Bismarck. As we
talked, Landis quickly realized that he SHOULD have made them available
to Universal for inclusion on THIS DVD release. "Well... they'll
have to be on the 30th Anniversary, I guess," he said with a good
humored, apologetic smile. Ah well.
In the meantime, if you would rather NOT wait until 2010,
got a zip file available for download here at The
Bits that features high-quality MP3 versions of The Blues
Brothers performing Sink the Bismarck,
as well as a pair of unreleased Murph and The Magic Tones tracks that
were recorded for the film. Be sure to enjoy that, along with
complete review of the new DVD release, which is available in
Okay... that's all for now. We'll be back early tomorrow morning with
that O.C. DVD review and more.
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/30/05 -
12:01 AM PDT)
We've got a couple things for you early this morning, and then we'll be
back later today with more on that Blues
Brothers event last night in Hollywood, as well as a review.
First up, Criterion
has officially announced the DVD release of Robert Bresson's Pickpocket
(cat #314), Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu
(#309), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The
Tales of Hoffmann (#317) and a long-awaited favorite of ours
here at The Bits, Akira Kurosawa's
Ran (#316). All are set to arrive
in stores in November (exact street dates TBA).
Ran (SRP $39.95) will be a 2-disc
set containing the restored film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) from
a new HD transfer, audio commentary by Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince,
an appreciation of the film by director Sidney Lumet (Network,
Dog Day Afternoon), the 74-minute
film A.K. by director Chris Marker
(La jetée, Sans
soleil) examining the making of Ran,
the 34-minute Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful
to Create documentary on the making of Ran (created as part
of the Toho Masterworks series), the 35-minute video Image:
Kurosawa's Continuity reconstructing Ran
through Akira Kurosawa's paintings and sketches, a new video interview
with actor Tatsuya Nakadai, the film's original theatrical trailer, a
new essay by film critic Michael Wilmington, new and improved English
subtitle translation and more. Nice.
Two things that go great together: Akira Kurosawa and Criterion DVD.
In other news today, there's
story at the excellent Red Herring technology website in
which Toshiba is claiming that Sony and others in the Blu-ray Disc camp
are simply unwilling to compromise with Toshiba on a unification of
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Toshiba reportedly is open to working out a
compromise that would merge the two specs, while the Sony group
basically just wants HD-DVD to back down and let Blu-ray Disc be the
only format on the block. Frankly, I suspect this isn't just Toshiba
posturing. I think it's probably true. Blu-ray seems to have the
momentum at the moment, and I think there's the feeling in the Blu-ray
camp that the PlayStation 3 is going to be the deal breaker if there is
a format war. In our opinion, however, Sony and the Blu-ray Disc camp
would do well NOT to count their chickens before they're hatched. Why?
Well, let me explain...
For reasons of digital copy protection, BOTH HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc
are likely going to allow full 1080 high-definition resolution video
signals to be passed ONLY through digital (read: protected) HDMI
connections, and NOT analog component connections. Toshiba has already
privately admitted this, but Sony has not. By doing this, BOTH formats
are basically shutting themselves out of about 80% of the early adopter
market - a HUGE mistake that could end this format war almost before
it's begun. Why? Because it's early adopters who are likely going to
make or break either format - they're the folks who WANT high-definition
movies on disc the most. And most early adopters purchased their HDTVs
in the first year or two that they were available (that is, after all,
WHY they call them early adopters - they like to be the first on the
block to buy new technology). What that means is that most early
adopters have HDTVs that ONLY come with analog component HD inputs - not
HDMI (or even DVI).
There's an expression that comes to mind here: "You don't bite the
hand that feeds you." BOTH Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are quietly
planning to do just that. Which means that not only is this format war
ugly, unnecessary and embarrassing for the consumer electronics
industry, it's also gone well beyond being stupid. You get the feeling
that Moe, Larry and Curly could have figured out a better plan. Hell,
Curly Joe and Shemp alone could have worked out a compromise by now.
One last note this morning: A LOT of you have been e-mailing us asking
about our Batman: The Animated Series -
Volume Four news from yesterday. Specifically, people are
asking, "How can there be a Volume Four
when there were only 85 episodes produced, all of which are already
available on the previous three volumes?" Turns out that the
release's COMPLETE title is: Batman: The
Animated Series - Volume Four (From the New Batman Adventures).
Here's Warner's description of the release which should help explain
things better: "In the hit show that
continues the Batman storyline from the Emmy-winning Batman: The
Animated Series, two years have passed and Batman still protects the
streets of Gotham City from the demented criminals that inhabit its dark
alleys. But irreconcilable differences with Dick Grayson lead to the
collapse of the Batman/Robin crimefighting duo and to the birth of
Gotham's new hero Nightwing. Batgirl fights at Batman's side, and a new
Robin takes flight after Batman's chance encounter with young Tim Drake.
In these 24 thrilling episodes, the Gotham Knights face their worst
enemies - Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and many more - in a comprehensive
4-disc set that completes the Batman animated saga!" So
there you go. Hope that clears things up.
By the way, addressing some other popular reader questions: No, there's
nothing new yet on David Lynch's Dune,
a U.S. release of Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon,
or a decent special edition of Ridley Scott's Blade
Runner. But believe me, we'll let you know the moment there's
anything new (and reliable) to report on any of them. Look on the bright
side: at least Paramount's definitely working on Twin
Peaks: Season Two for next year. Now if they'd just get
around to Star Trek: The Animated Series...
Here's a little more cover art for you... Warner's Batman:
The Animated Series - Volume Four (From the New Batman Adventures)
and Superman: The Animated Series - Volume
Two (both due 12/6) and Criterion's Ran
(street date TBA)...
Back later with more enlightened soapbox ravings. Stay tuned...
Morning, everyone! We've got a couple of interesting things to report
First up, Warner Bros. has announced more TV animated DVDs. On 12/6,
look for the studio to release Batman: The
Animated Series - Volume Four (4 discs), Superman:
The Animated Series - Volume Two (2 discs) and the Thundercats:
Season One, Volume Two box set (6 discs).
Warner will also release ER: The Complete
Fourth Season on 12/20.
In other news, Paramount has announced an Airplane!
"Don't Call Me Shirley!" Edition for 11/15. There's
no word yet on extras on the single-disc release. Other titles newly
announced by the studio include Comedy Central's Drawn
Together: Season One on 10/4, Mad
Hot Ballroom on 10/18 and Lewis Milestone's noir classic The
Strange Love of Martha Ivers on 10/25.
Buena Vista has confirmed the release of Touchstone's Dark
Water: Unrated Edition on 12/26 (SRP $29.99).
Buena Vista is also giving retailer Wal-Mart a Disney animated
exclusive - the straight-to-video Three Wise
Men on 11/1 (SRP $19.99). You can read more
at Video Business.
Speaking of retailer exclusives... our own Russell Hammond has word on
a number of exclusive bonus DVDs and extras that are available (or will
be available) with recent and upcoming releases at specific chains.
Here's a list he compiled:
Alexander - Exclusive
Wal-Mart Bonus DVD - includes the Becoming
Alexander 47-minute documentary that looks at how Colin
Farrell transformed himself into Alexander.
Cinderella - Exclusive
Wal-Mart Bonus CD - includes 10 favorite Disney classic songs
from Aladdin, Cinderella,
The Lion King, The
Little Mermaid and more.
Crash - Exclusive
Best Buy Bonus DVD - includes an introduction by
writer/director Paul Haggis, storyboard comparisons, script-to-screen
comparisons and a music montage.
Lost: Season One - Exclusive
Best Buy Bonus DVD - includes the 43-minute Lost
Journeys episode, the Flashbacks &
Mythology mini-documentary that explores the stories and
storytelling methods of the show and 2 Lost:
On Location behind-the-scenes featurettes (White
Rabbit and The Moth).
The Lost Chronicles: The Official Companion
Book - Exclusive Bonus DVD
- includes an hour of unaired scenes from the show. The book is
available widely at all major book retailers.
Monster-in-Law - Exclusive
Wal-Mart Bonus CD - includes more music from the film.
The Ring Two - Exclusive
Wal-Mart Bonus DVD - includes The
Creepiest Moments of Them All! (selected scares from The
Ring Two, The Ring and
the Japanese Ringu Anthology),
Things That Go Bump on the Set!
(cast and crew talk about the eerie experiences while filming), Lights,
Camera, Suspense! (director Hideo Nakata talks about creating
suspense with his film techniques) and From
Ringu 2 to The Ring Two! (on how the Japanese script was
adapted and developed for Western audiences).
Sahara - Exclusive
Best Buy Bonus DVD - includes The
Making of the Camel Chase Scene featurette, 2 animatics
sequences and 3 storyboard-to-movie comparisons.
Tommy Boy: Holy Schnike Edition -
Exclusive Best Buy Bobblehead -
buy the DVD and get a free Chris Farley bobblehead.
The Wedding Date - Exclusive
Wal-Mart Bonus CD - includes 11 "timeless love songs
interpreted by giant vocal jazz artists."
Whew! That's a LOT of exclusive stuff, and it's enough to drive some
DVD fans crazy. Ah well.
Time for some music news: If we have any Talking Heads fans in the
house, Matt over at our MusicTAP
affiliate has some news that should get your heart racing. It seems that
Rhino and Warner/Sire will be releasing nearly the entire Heads catalog
in DualDisc on 10/4, with the audio on the DVD side in advanced
resolution DVD-Audio format. There's also a TON of rare bonus material
to be included (click on the link and slide down the page for a complete
list). As a longtime Heads head, I find this to be very cool news.
Finally this morning (our last news item), there's confirmation from
20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm that the release of Star
Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, certain to be one of
the biggest sellers of the year, will be DVD only. There will be no VHS
version released. You can read more
Video Business. It's just one more sign that VHS is soon
to be an ex-format.
Around the site today, we've now got NINE
going, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Universal's
Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition and
Season One, Ryko's
I Was a
Zombie for the FBI, Touchstone's
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (including a copy of the
Douglas Adams book and a froopy towel!), Warner's
and Pirates of
Silicon Valley, several titles from 20th Century Fox
and Friends: Volume 4,
Shortcake, a trio of
Bak: The Thai Warrior and
Temple Collection), Paramount's
Gets the Blues and the Capital Entertainment contest
(continued from last week) for
Twist 2. The contests will run for TWO WEEKS, until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday, September 11th. Good luck!
We'll be back tomorrow with a review of Warner's The
O.C.: The Complete Second Season, along with a report on
Universal's Blues Brothers DVD
release event tonight in L.A. (simulcast via satellite to movies
theaters around the U.S.).